ADESA: Wholesale Used Vehicle Prices in March Fell Compared to Last Year

Wholesale used vehicle prices rose seasonally but fell annually in March, indicating a softening overall pricing environment compared to the past three spring/tax seasons, according to the latest Kontos Kommentary from ADESA Chief Economist Tom Kontos. 

Kontos said the softening was expected. That’s because used vehicle prices had risen to high levels relative to new vehicle prices, and used vehicle supplies -- including those from trade-ins on higher new vehicle sales -- had begun growing. Still, strong retail sales of used and certified-pre-owned vehicles provided demand support that prevented prices from softening further.

March Prices

According to ADESA Analytical Services’ monthly analysis of wholesale used vehicle prices by vehicle model class, wholesale used vehicle prices in March averaged $10,028 – up 2.9% compared to February but down 5.6% relative to March 2012.

At the model class segment level, used vehicle prices seemed to emulate patterns seen in new vehicle sales data. For example, full-size pickup trucks and small SUVs and crossovers had strong prices that perhaps mirrored solid demand for these vehicles at new car dealerships.

Moreover, the rebounding construction economy is probably playing a role in higher pickup truck prices. Meanwhile, small SUV and crossover prices are affected by the growing popularity of these flexible, relatively fuel-efficient and well-optioned vehicles. 

Conversely, larger SUVs and crossovers have seen significant year-over-year price declines through the first quarter.

Prices for used vehicles remarketed by manufacturers were up 2.1% month-over-month, but down 2.8% year-over-year. Prices for fleet/lease consignors were up 5.2% sequentially, but down 2.4% annually. Dealer consignors saw a 4.0% average price increase versus February 2013, but a 7.8% downturn versus March 2012.

Based on data from CNW Marketing/Research, retail used vehicle sales were the highest for March since 2006 -- up 17.3% year-over-year for franchised dealers and 7.1% for independent dealers. March sales of certified used vehicles hit an all-time high, with sales of 190,065 -- up 9.0% from March 2012 (174,337, the previous high) and 21.1% higher than February 2013 -- based on data from Autodata.

Wholesale Used Vehicle Price Trends

 Average Prices ($/Unit)  Latest Month Versus: 
  Mar-13 Feb-13 Mar-12 Prior Month Prior Year
Total All Vehicles $10,028 $9,747 $10,625 2.9% -5.6%
Total Cars $9,189 $8,854 $9,922 3.8% -7.4%
Compact Car $7,065 $6,910 $7,684 2.2% -8.0%
Midsize Car $8,520 $8,262 $8,970 3.1% -5.0%
Fullsize Car $7,883 $7,413 $8,416 6.3% -6.3%
Luxury Car $12,057 $11,963 $13,335 0.8% -9.6%
Sporty Car $13,053 $12,144 $14,163 7.5% -7.8%
Total Trucks $9,753 $9,531 $10,286 2.3% -5.2%
Mini Van $6,929 $6,910 $7,600 0.3% -8.8%
Fullsize Van $9,982 $9,952 $9,772 0.3% 2.2%
Mini SUV $11,227 $10,993 $11,409 2.1% -1.6%
Midsize SUV $6,911 $6,560 $7,447 5.4% -7.2%
Fullsize SUV $10,647 $10,130 $12,648 5.1% -15.8%
Luxury SUV $18,144 $18,583 $19,572 -2.4% -7.3%
Compact Pickup $7,550 $7,459 $8,090 1.2% -6.7%
Fullsize Pickup $11,790 $11,532 $11,656 2.2% 1.1%
Total Crossovers $13,572 $13,398 $14,176 1.3% -4.3%
Compact CUV $12,098 $11,873 $11,818 1.9% 2.4%
Mid/Fullsize CUV $15,084 $14,916 $16,966 1.1% -11.1%

Source: ADESA Analytical Services; February data revised

The Kontos Kommentary analysis is based on nearly 6 million annual sales transactions from over 150 of the largest U.S. wholesale auto auctions, including those of ADESA as well as other auction companies. ADESA Analytical Services segregates these transactions to study trends by vehicle model class.

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